Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What Comes After?

There's a lot of talk in schools and around the Internet about voting the UFT contract agreement down and forcing de Blasio to give teachers a better deal in a second agreement.

People say this will show the public that teachers are starting to stand up for themselves, they're not going to take getting humiliated or beaten up by the politicians or press anymore.

I have also heard how teachers voted a contract down in 1995 and got a better deal the second time around, so voting this contract down will mean a better deal.

I fear that there is some magical thinking going on among some of the "Vote No!" folks that all we have to do is send a message to the mayor, our union heads and the public that we want a better contract by voting this one down and we will, in the end, get one.

I'm a little concerned that we're expending an awful lot of energy and thought on why the contract should be voted down, how to get it voted down, but not nearly enough on the "What comes after...?" question.

There's a scene in The Godfather where Clemenza the capo is tutoring Michael Corleone on what to do after he shoots a crooked cop and gangster who set up his father, Vito, to be killed.

Michael is told to simply drop the gun, walk out to a waiting car and go off to Sicily while the rest of the family "goes to mattresses" and takes the heat.

Michael asks Clemenza how bad things are going to get after he murders the crooked cop and gangster.

Clemenza says "Pretty goddam bad. But that's all right. These things have got to happen every once in a while...every five years...ten...helps to get rid of the bad blood..."

People who are voting "no" have got to be ready for how goddamn bad things are going to get if and when the contract is voted down because it is going to get very rough afterwards and if we're not careful, the aftermath could do more harm to the cause of teachers than good.

The press will be brutal ("Greedy teachers vote down 18% contract, want more!!!") and de Blasio is going to be pissed that his "signature" contract and early first term accomplishment got voted down (and, perhaps, be less friendly toward teachers as a consequence.)

We had better be ready for this.

Let's take the press first - you know the coverage is going to be brutal if the contract is voted down. The Murdoch outlets are going to hammer teachers as greedy scum, the Daily News won't be far behind and Marcia Kramer and others will have plenty of pieces on the airwaves blasting teachers too.

The UFT leadership isn't the best at countering negative press coverage even when it's in their interest to do so - you can bet they're not going to do it if the contract they negotiated is voted down and teachers are getting hammered by the media for it.

So, what is the strategy post-vote for teachers to get their message out to the public about why we voted the contract down when the corporate-owned press is spewing out a "Greedy Teachers!" meme day and night to the public and the UFT leadership is doing nothing to counter it?

Do we think we can counter that "Greedy Teachers!" meme from the corporate press on our social media sites with tweets, Facebook posts and blog pieces?

Do we think we can counter that "Greedy Teachers!" meme by giving press conferences that are sparsely attended by media people and given little press coverage except for a Schoolbook post at WNYC and a mention on Gotham Charter Schools?

In Chicago, CTU was able to garner a lot of public support for their strike because they had an ongoing relationship with parents that they had built over time.

Also, the Chicago teachers were striking over issues that parents and students were affected by - class size, school closures, etc.

Here in NYC, the UFT has purposely run itself as a top-down union and there has been little outreach to parents and the public.

It is true that MORE is a little better at this than the leadership, but even there I wouldn't say there is a relationship with the public and parents where we can say a substantial portion of them will give us the benefit of the doubt in the face of mass smearing from the corporate press if and when we vote the contract down.

So, first point is, how do we counter the firestorm we will have in the media after the contract is voted down? What's the plan to get our points out to the public in the face of a hostile media and hostile UFT leadership?

Next point is, what happens to our relationship with de Blasio?

Currently we have a mayor who is mostly friendly and in sync with teachers - for the first time in a long time.

We could have had either Christine Quinn or Anthony Weiner at City Hall and I can tell you that both of those candidates planned few changes to the public school system from the Bloomberg Years.

De Blasio, for all his faults, is planning changes that I think will make the system better for students and educators.

Two things happen for de Blasio when we vote the contract down:

First, we weaken de Blasio politically, as his "signature" first labor deal that he is basing his whole budget on goes up in smoke and he's going to get lambasted in the press over that (he's already taking hits over the budget and Comptroller Stringer's forcing him to make an accounting change relating to retiring teachers.)

Second, we piss de Blasio off and may discover later on he is not so friendly to teachers anymore.

The first point is an important one - as I say, for all his faults, de Blasio is looking like he is going to be a good mayor for schools, students, and teachers.

It is in our long-term interests to help him politically so that he stays in office for a while.

We know that the corporate deform folks are mobilizing against him - if that wasn't obvious in the Eva/de Blasio charter war, I don't know what was - and we know that they are going to look to take him out in 2017 and put a pro-charter, pro-reform mayor in his place. Eva Moskowitz herself has suggested she might run in the future.

We do political damage to de Blasio when we vote this contract down and we have to figure out a way to mitigate that damage as much as possible because it is in our political interest to do so.

The second point is important too - de Blasio is not going to be too happy with us if we vote this down and he may decide if we are going to hurt him politically, there is less reason for him to help us going forward. I doubt he turns into Quinn or Weiner (both of whom I believe would have ultimately turned out hostile toward teachers - not as hostile as Bloomberg, but not as friendly as de Blasio either), but I bet he gets colder toward us in the future.

While I am in no way suggesting we should take a bad contract so we can prop de Blasio up politically or keep him happy with us, I am saying that we had better think about the long-term political consequences if we vote the contract agreement down and have a plan to deal with them afterwards.

How do we handle our relationship with de Blasio afterward so that it is still productive and not fraught with hostility and animosity? How do we help him politically so that he is not unduly weakened by having his "signature" labor contract and early-first term accomplishment sent back to him with "No thanks!" on it? How do we ensure that we keep a mayor friendly to public education in City Hall for more than one term and not find ourselves staring at Mayor Moskowitz (or, more likely, some Moskowitz-friendly mayor) in four years?

I don't have answers to these questions, but I want to raise them because I am not hearing much from the contract opposition that makes me think people are thinking these points through - and they are important ones.

Teachers are unhappy with the contract for a whole host of very good reasons.

Teachers want to send a message to Mulgrew, the political and economic elites and the public that they're mad as hell and don't want to take it anymore.

I get that and I feel it myself.

Alas, I'm not sure those messages are going to get across without planning and organizing in advance to get them across.

It's not enough to just say "Vote no!" and expect things will work out fine.

If the contract gets voted down, things get very complicated very quickly.

It's hard to predict how they turn out but I think there's a good chance that voting the contract down could boomerang on teachers if we are not careful how we handle the "What Comes After...?" question.

From what I see right now, we're not being careful at all about the "What Comes After...?" but just focusing on the fight to get the contract voted down and then engaging in some magical thinking that it just will work out better because it has to, because it did in 1995.

The truth is, it doesn't "have" to work out better - we have to MAKE IT work out better by making sure we can get our message out to the public over the shrillness of the corporate media, making sure we let de Blasio know it's nothing personal, we still want to work together, making sure that we don't do permanent political damage to a mayor who is friendly to traditional public schools and making sure we can counter the rhetoric from the fiscal watchdog concern trolls that the city can't "afford" a better contract for teachers so voting the contract down doesn't get us just another version of the same contract we have now.

Like I said earlier, I don't have the answers for how to handle these problems, but I know we ought to start turning our attention to them so we're ready to handle what comes after.

90 comments:

  1. Really great piece, I am glad you put it up! I have been thinking these same things for the past week. It does seems like this contract may get voted down, but I certainly don'the believe that means we automatically get something better. We need to be planning for that possibility and thinking about how we can get the contract we want, especially if both the Mayor and UFT leadership turn on us when the media certainly does. If we are not careful we actually may get something worse.

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    1. The p.r. war in the aftermath of voting the contract down is going to matter. I'm just trying to get people to think about that. Because that's going to ultimately affect the outcome of not only a second contract agreement but a whole bunch of other things unrelated to the contract.

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  2. I don't care if the press or the public thinks I am greedy. What needs to be discussed is what really happens if we vote "no". From my understanding it goes back to arbitration. I have no problem with that and thus I am voting "no".

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    1. Not saying you should have a problem voting no.

      I'm saying we should be preparing for the political consequences and media coverage if the contract is voted down.

      You don't care that the public will get the message from the press that teachers are greedy for voting the contract down?

      Contracts are not negotiated in isolation of the political environment - what gets reported in the press, the propaganda that gets spewed, affects negotiations.

      Even more important, it affects the kind of support teachers can get from the public on a whole host of things, not just contract negotiations, but school policies, charter vs. trad schools, etc.

      These are important issues to think about in concert with voting no on the contract.

      Haven't heard anything from anybody that addresses these issues.

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    2. This post has infuriated me

      1- What has improved since deBlasio took over? Nothing.

      2- Peter Lamphere already did a what happens if we vote no piece at MORE

      3- Sandy Feldman told us in 95 we had to be smoking something if we thought we would do better and we did against a hostile mayor.

      4-The tabloids will hate us no matter what we do. Fellow workers in unions are counting on us to vote no.

      5-There is no precedent of a contract going down that came back worse. Even TWU after the strike produced the same settlement.

      6-The tone of this piece is the usual fefeatism that Unity uses to get us to take garbage every time.

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    3. That should say defeatism.

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    4. Sorry you were infuriated by the post. Nonetheless it was something that needed to be written. I hear a lot of anger and fury out there, but not much in the way of channeling that anger and fury so that we get what we want not just in this contract fight but in the long-term fight against corporate reform. That's what I was trying to get at in the post.

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    5. step I to winning that fight is to vote no and tell de Blasio and Mulgrew we're not taking a horrible contract. If they come back with something that does away with the horrible ATR lack of due process, I am sure many minds will be altered. If another union sets a better pattern, then we can truly improve this. What do we have to lose now? A 2% increase and a signing bonus. Give us a break.

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    6. Fair points - how do you get the ATR provision taken out in a second contract offer?

      That takes some thinking through - the UFT leadership already gave on it and de Blasio is already getting hammered by reformers for not being "reformy" enough with the contract.

      So wanting the ATR provision out is not enough to get it out. I don't know exactly how you get it out of a second contract agreement, but I surely would like to see it out and want people to start thinking how to get it.

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  3. From Under The BusMay 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    We, as teachers, have been denigrated by the press since the beginning og Bloombag years. Randi sold out in 2005 and Mulgrapes is now doing the same. I understand what you are saying, RBE, but we must take a stand and stay unified in an un-unified union. "You can't fight City Hall" and Top Down monarchies. Voting NO is our statement and our demand. We lost most rights but still have the right to do this. Selling us a toxic bill of goods does not a contract make!

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    1. I agree with much of what you say.

      But here's the thing I'm trying to get across.

      It's important to send a message to the public, the politicians and most particularly, our union leaders - we're not going to take it anymore!

      But how do we make sure they receive that message amidst the propaganda that is going to get spewed via the corporate press and media?

      He who controls the messaging most often wins the war these days.

      Please see Eva Moskowitz vs. Bill de Blasio for the latest example of that.

      So, going forward, not just in this contract fight but in the fight against the corporate reform agenda as a whole, how do we focus on the messaging so that the statements we are making are actually the ones received by the public?

      CTU probably provides a good blueprint for some of that.

      But it's important because what the public thinks about something matters.

      We're seeing that now as they turn against CCSS.

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    2. It took someone like Beth Dimino to go out there and tell off John King to turn the tide on Common Core.. A no vote here and it would turn the tide immediately and be seen as a slap at Mulgrew and de Blasio. City workers are de Blasio's base. He needs to do something for us When someone like SBO Pres Ed Mullins calls Mulgrew insane and the Daily News quotes James and Arthur in a fairly favorable story, we are already winning.

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    3. Good points you make - the thing is, does that "fairly favorable" story trajectory change after the contract is voted down? It becomes important to think of ways to get it to stay favorable.

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  4. Grow a spine Mr Reality and everyone else. No guts no glory!

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    1. This comment is the best emblem I have seen for the incoherent fury spewing forth on the Internets in this contract fight. Good luck winning a p.r. battle with that message. And winning a p.r. battle matters. See my comment above to From Under The Bus for why.

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    2. Not incoherent at all. It is pretty straightforward and says what teachers and the rest of the 99% need to do if we are to make any gains and stopped being treated like garbage..

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    3. "No guts no glory" isn't a winning message in either the contract war or the larger fight for public education or the teaching profession.

      It is, however, a winning title for a Molly Hatchet album.

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  5. Worst reasoning ever!! All deB and Mulgrew have to do is change the ATR provision, and many NO votes will turn into Yeses. Once any contract screws with seniority and due process, that should be the concern...and yes, money should be secondary when it comes to our rights. Makes me wonder how you voted in '05 and how your life as a teacher improved since then. You also skip over the fact that even though it's not in the contract, medical benefits are going to be cut to help pay for this raise. Every single newspaper is reporting it, and if you trust Mulgrew to say it won't happen, you will be wrong.
    How will the media treat us?? Well considering they hate us now, ask me if I really care. The only thing I care about is you never, ever screw with anyone's due process.

    I just wish guys like you just say you want the money even though it's not much in the long run and will throw anyone under the bus to get it. But don't play this scar tactic with me. This is why teachers lost their power, because of posts like this. This contract I am sure has Cuomo's stamp of approval as well. You already knew the contract is going to pass, and all this has done was made me lose respect I had for you because every word is based on why we should be afraid.
    I really hoped for a contract that would restore seniority rights. Be happy with your raise because it's going to pay for your reduced health benefits.

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    1. "scare" tactic

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    2. Have you gotten the message out that all deB and Mulgrew have to do is change the ATR provision and many NO votes will turn to YES?

      If so, I haven't heard it clearly.

      All I'm saying is, get a coherent message out for WHY the contract must go down and make sure that gets out to the public.

      I don't think you're going to win the fight going into it with blind fury.

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    3. I agree with 9:52 am. Very well said critique of this post. Better passionate blind fury than more surrender of our dignity.

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    4. Not sure what outcome you want for all of this, but I don't think passionate blind fury is going to get anything good for you.

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    5. I have seen it. I have heard it. You just choose to ignore it because you never once mentioned it in your post. And that fact speaks volumes. Even in your new post regarding PR, and that was laughable, you ignore the right of due process. You are surrendering and willing to throw anyone under the bus to get your money over rights. I don't see the blind fury you do. I have seen all the YES people do as you are doing, spreading fear and leaving out facts like due process and health care.

      Those on the other side have been pretty vocal about that. You sir are doing exactly what Mulgrew wants. And as I stated earlier, I can no longer respect a blogger that leaves out salient facts about the pitfalls of a contract in a post and turns to fear mongering. Unity has their own people for that!! However, if you had just been honest and stated you were in it for the money, then I might have respected that although not agreed with it.

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  6. Hey, Im not,asking for the moon and the stars. How about 7500 up front bonus? The city can afford this, and this money will be pumped into the local economy immediately.

    How about , as a,retirement inducement, give 2 years of additional service credit for,those that use it to retire now. Just two ideas, but with these dangerous givebacks, were not getting enough back. This is something that can be worked out in a few,weeks, and doesn't have to make DeB look bad.

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    1. These are reasonable requests reasonably stated.

      I think that's a better way to go about the p.r. war that is to come than the anger and fury I see and hear in a lot of different places.

      I'm not criticizing the anger and fury, mind you.

      It's total understandable and I share it.

      I just don't think it's a terribly effective way to actually get the outcomes we want, either short-term or long-term.

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    2. Being scaed won't get us anything either

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  7. But yes....even $7500 can't possibly compensate for this shirt contract....Im voting NO!

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  8. You bring up a good point about finding allies who will support us. I wonder why the UFT never wants a seat at the parents' table. Looking at the testing/reform resistance that is growing in NY. So many parent/teacher groups are fighting together. I see other teacher unions at rallies but never UFT. That's a mistake.

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    1. I have a new piece that just went up that focuses on this issue:

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-do-we-counter-sophisticated-pr.html

      The UFT clearly does not want to concede any power to rank-and-file or parents. They would have to grow less top-down if they were to try and bring parents into the mix and watching them the past 13 years, I just don't think they're going to be willing to do that.

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    2. UFT has many parent allies: Check out the Alliance for Quality Education. The UFT doesn't support its members.

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    3. I agree the union doesn't support their members. I would point out that they do support AQE, however. Which means as great as that organization is (and I have a lot of respect for Billy Easton), it's not quite the same as the partnerships CTU forged w/ parents.

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    4. There's a rally for public ed in NYC today. Will the UFT be there? They're not listed on the flyer. Will they be at he NY democratic convention on Wednesday to protest the governor's relentless assault on public ed? Probably not even though there will be so many other teacher unions there. That's the kind of support parents are looking for.

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    5. Good point. 5 leaders of small L.I. locals got a meeting w/ Cuomo after the Holbrook protest. I bet that had as much to do with all the parents being at that rally as much as it had to do with the overall numbers. Had it just been teachers, Cuomo dismisses it. But when it's teachers AND parents...

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    6. Exactly. Let's go to Melville on Wednesday. That would be a good start.

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  9. Great and thoughtful post - it is not defeatism but a warning on how to continue fighting a post-NO vote battle. But I believe people are fooling themselves if they think this is going to be voted down. Lots of sturm and drang - early vote will work for UFT - my reports is that most schools are not even talking about voting NO - with Unity CLs in so many them and no MORE to counter them. But a big NO vote will certainly shake the union leadership.

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    1. Defeatism, defeatism, defeatism. Get everyone to give up when we finally have a chance to do something to shake things up.

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    2. Thanks for the kind words, Norm. I have a new piece up working off this one, pointing out what happened to de Blasio in the p.r. war against Eva, how he had the moral high ground and still managed to get smeared as the villain.

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-do-we-counter-sophisticated-pr.html

      I think no matter what happens with the contract vote, teachers need to begin thinking about how to get our messages out, sans union leadership, since they've got their own agenda.

      Otherwise we end up like de Blasio in the Eva/charter war.

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    3. Norm is ever the pessimist. That won't change.

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    4. Anon, 11:29 AM,

      You think it's defeatism to warn about the coming p.r. war as well as the political consequences of a no vote?

      I think it is certain defeat to not think these problems through and find viable solutions to them.

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    5. If this post convinces anyone to vote yes who otherwise may have voted no (we might lose the PR war after the vote so be careful about a no vote), then this post will be considered in the future as just another nail in our coffin. This statement might not be coherent enough for the intellectuals here but here goes: Garbage is garbage and this contract is garbage in so many ways. I don't need a PR strategy to know I am being dumped on and say no to it. I look to the people in MORE, ICE, you and Arthur to get our message out. It is a new world today because of the internet and we can win over the most important people: our members and other working people.

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    6. Not good enough - please see what happened to de Blasio in the charter war against Eva.

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    7. Your Weingartian style reasoning is astounding. It is how they got the Newark contract through and then went after everyone. De Blasio has not proven to be our friend. If this is what union friendly looks like, I'll pass.

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    8. I'm no shill for de Blasio. You can read through the blog archives to see that. But I am a realist, and compared to what we would have had with Quinn or Weiner (both of whom actually led in the polls and had shots to win), de Blasio is teacher- and union-friendly. That doesn't mean he's great for us by any means. It simply means, given how anti-teacher and anti-union most pols are these days (see Cuomo; see Obama), he is the best thing you're going to get and it's in your political interest to keep him around.

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  10. I don't believe a lot of teachers are thinking about the "what next" if the contract is turned down. I do know that turning it down will offer a bit of chaos, (which is always good for change), and it sends a message that people are paying attention and realize how poor the contract is.

    I do know that this battle is not only against unfair reformers, but also our own union leadership who have no problem collaborating with them.

    Just look at Mulgrew's decision to stay silent on Bloomberg's 3rd term election. Look at his silence on teacher evaluations. Look at his silence with Cuomo and Moskowitz.

    Many teachers aren't pissed off enough yet, to "do something".

    Voting no is a start. It causes a little chaos and forces some altered reactions and decisions. I believe criticism from the other unions is helpful, too.

    (Though, don't think Mulgrew and Unity aren't planning right for a what if "No Vote" plan.)

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    1. All good points, Pogue.

      I agree that voting the contract down will alter reactions and decisions from some of the players, including our union leadership.

      Some of those alterations may benefit us, some may not.

      What we need to do is try and make sure that we don't get short-term benefits at the cost of long-term ones.

      That's why I was also trying to get people to think about the politics around this for de Blasio and how it remains in our interest to help him.

      And it's really true that the war is against the UFT leadership as much as the deformers.

      That's what makes winning the messaging in the war so tricky.

      And without winning messaging, we cannot win.

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    2. Unity can not conceive of a majority voting no. You better believe that or you don't know them very well.

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    3. No, they probably can't conceive of that. And they probably didn't conceive of it happening in 1995 either. But it did. Going forward, they cannot conceive of losing a presidential election either. And so far, they haven't. There's enough anger out there to give them a run for their money in two years, and one of things I think is important here is to pivot from the contract fight, whatever the outcome, to the presidential election fight early and start hammering Mulgrew and Unity over and over and over...

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    4. It didn't happen in the elections following 2005 or 1995 when there were significant no votes and it won't happen now if people don't get involved and do more than write blogs.

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    5. I dunno - I think Facebook and Twitter adds an unknown to the vote that is hard to predict.

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  11. I'm voting YES. Everyone I know is also. Most teachers at my large campus who I don't really know are voting yes. If you think the "no" vote will be above 30% you're crazy, or living in a fantasy world. Your friends like you have retired already. The union is 80% under 35 years old. They, and I, want this contract.

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    1. Explain why they want this contract? As someone who has lived through lots of contracts and a former UFT rep, I have seen morale wane and no amount of money is going to help that. And it now looks like the retro gains will soon be lost to health care cuts. Every article I have read has said that the union will find ways to cut health benefits.

      So why is it that newbies have no sense of what a strong contract should look like?

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    2. Morale hasn't waned at my school - it's plummeted! And the contract agreement has exacerbated that morale drop. My hope is that the anger over what has befallen us in the past few years - especially the CCSS/APPR/Danielson jive - can be added to the anger over the contract and channeled toward taking some Unity people out in the elections in two years.

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  12. Why are you willing to sell out the ATRs for this contract Reality?

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    1. Airing concerns about how to address the p.r. battle and the political consequences after the contract is voted down is selling out the ATR's?

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    2. You state why this contract must be passed and use a poor PR excuse to do it, so now answer the question I put forth.

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    3. I've stated no such thing. If you read the post, you'd know I stated no such thing.

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    4. Basically you did by telling people why they must vote YES....for instance you say how the media will treat us. The only thing I see in this post are false arguments if the contract is voted down. And again, you are evading why no mention of the ATR agreement in this contract. Is it more important that we make deBlasio look good and the media like us (that will NEVER happen) than stand up for due process??

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    5. I said none of the things you say I said. In fact, I wrote "

      While I am in no way suggesting we should take a bad contract so we can prop de Blasio up politically or keep him happy with us, I am saying that we had better think about the long-term political consequences if we vote the contract agreement down and have a plan to deal with them afterwards."

      Which simply means, if and when the contract is voted down, have plans to A) get what we want in the second contract agreement - including changes to the ATR agreement and B) deal with the p.r. fallout.

      If you want to continue saying I have said something I haven't said, then our conversation is done here.

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  13. I hate to see you take all this heat, RBE, for just looking at the situation realistically. When people are in a "blind fury," they know what they don't want, but they often don't know what exactly they DO want or how to get it.

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    1. That was really well put - "When people are in a 'blind fury,' they know what they don't want, but they often don't know what exactly they DO want or how to get it." That really crystallizes it.

      As for the heat, I expected to get hammered for the post. Nonetheless I needed to write it because I wasn't hearing these concerns anywhere else.

      My hope is that when people cool down from the anger a bit, they'll hear what I was trying to say with different ears.

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  14. We can win the PR battle if we're willing to take a significant portion of our future raises in the form of a "teachers choice" payment - money that we must use for our students. Many teachers would have no problem with this. I already give away in classroom purchases much much more than the $500/yr average reported on the UFT website. I've spent as much as 8k/year on supplies. Really? That much? Yes. Does the public know teachers do this kind of thing? probably not. We need to show the public the We the teachers are the ones that truly care about the students. Give me a teachers choice payment of 5k/year in lieu of a portion of my raise and I would be able to do so much for my students. It will help teachers plan/innovate/dream about how they might improve their lessons using the additional resources. Also, teachers would be much less likely to hop from school to school if they are investing part of their salaries in their schools. This would be a simple but very effective solution to the problem. Give it some thought. Most teachers would be excited to be given 5k/yr in the form of teachers choice even if it is taken from a salary increase or retro payment.

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    1. You are literally out of your mind. I cannot even believe you wrote that. Ridiculous!!!!

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  15. The contract will pass with 68% yes. You guys can keep whining all you want.

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    1. I would say about 72% yes.

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    2. We know that the Unity/NA bloc will all vote yes and will be doing their GOTV for "yes."

      But there is an awful lot of disgruntlement and anger on the Internet about the contract that makes me think the "no" vote will be big.

      In addition, I have heard personally from many people who say they are voting "no," including at my school. Whether they really do vote "no" is another matter, but that's what I have heard.

      With the preponderance of social media these days, I would think the "no" vote will be higher than '05, when we really just had the blogs to fight with.

      Is it enough for the "no's" to win?

      I don't know.

      Unlike a political campaign where you have polls to use to guide you, we have nothing to guide us here except the '95 vote and the '05 vote.

      I am leaning toward this is going to be more like the '05 vote than the '95 vote - there will be a significant "no" vote but not enough to kill the agreement.

      But social media adds an unknown that could surprise and there is an outside chance this could go down.

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    3. I don't agree with this post but do agree with the political analysis. There is an outside chance this could go down.

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  16. RBE I thank you for this post. Your point about "contracts not being negotiated in isolation of the political environment..." is a good one. This morning at NYC Educator's blog I said "I'm not going to just look at the contract in isolation. It needs to be viewed in the context of what's been going on since deBlasio has been elected."

    At the UFT Spring Conference a couple of weeks ago, which it seems most bloggers didn't attend because they dislike Unity so much, I heard deBlasio speak. It was heartfelt and real and he had nothing but praise for teachers and public schools. He said something about how he and his wife wouldn't have made it through the difficult middle school years with their kids if it hadn't been for the teachers....NYC Public School Teachers. He also said he knows how difficult it must have been for us during the Bloomberg years when we were constantly being told that we weren't doing a good job. He plans on changing that. He thanked us and told us he respects what we do. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he is a friend of public schools and public school teachers and he will be great IF the Governor and outside influences don't get in his way.

    He and Carmen Farina are already working on fixing the mess that Bloomberg left behind. They're working on getting rid of trailers and reducing overcrowding. They agreed to remove the disinsentive that Principals had for hiring more experienced teachers. Carmen already changed the DOE Regulation which now states that Principals can have no less than 7 years of classroom experience before becoming Principals. And I've heard that during the Principal meeting this Saturday Carmen was going to let the principals know that they MUST work with teachers and parents. She's trying to undo the mindset that existed under the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott administration. There were NO new school closings this year. For the first time in YEARS we had a Chancellor who listened and responded to people at the PEP meeting. She has come out to UFT Borough Offices for Town Hall Meetings with teachers. She and deBlasio both attended and PARTICIPATED at the UFT Spring Conference. They've gotten rid of School Report Cards. Are these things nothing? Are they not some type of proof that they want to turn things around? I left the UFT Conference feeling more optimistic about the future of NYC Public Schools than I have in over a decade.

    I had very high expectactions for our contract. What we will vote on is not what I had hoped for. It's FAR from perfect, but I believe the damage we can do by rejecting it could be more detrimental to our relationship with our new Mayor and Chancellor, not to mention parents and the general public than any gains we may experience from forcing a renegotiation.

    Near the end of the conference Mulgrew spoke of taking a "Leap of Faith" there was no talk of any contract at the time but I suppose that may have been what he was alluding to.Even though, as I said, I was angry and upset when the details of the contract began to emerge, I've now put it all in perspective and I've decided that I will vote yes because I believe to do otherwise could stop or reverse all the positive things that are being done outside of our contract that will enable our public schools to survive and thrive.

    So don't let others make you back down. These are probably the same people who scream about Unity not allowing for any dissenting opinions, why is it ok to not allow it for the non-Unity people?

    Mary

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Mary.

      I think you are right that the atmosphere has been so poisoned over the past few years that there is little trust among many in the rank and file for the union leadership and that lack of trust is getting transferred to de Blasio.

      I am not advocating people vote "yes" on the contract - I am advocating that people begin thinking about ways to win the p.r. war and deal with the political consequences if the contract is voted down.

      Often people get so focused on the first part of a battle - voting the contract down - that they forget there is more to winning the whole battle.

      Many people understandably want the ATR provision out of the contract.

      And I think they're right to want the provision out.

      What I am not hearing is how they plan to get that out of a second agreement.

      It's easy to hammer me for pointing out that there is no plan to get the changes they want in a second agreement other than wishful thinking.

      I suspect part of the anger getting aimed my way is really fear that they know I'm right that there's no plan for the "after".

      And that is scaring people.

      Chaz does a pretty good job of trying to explain why treating ATR's with dignity and respect is in the interest of the system and the students.

      Alas, our union does no such thing.

      Thus I think even in a second contract agreement, there will be no changes to the ATR provision UNLESS people advocate strongly, forcefully, publicly and effectively for them.

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  17. ATRs today, tomorrow YOU! This is a prelude to the changes that will follow if this abysmal contract is ratified.
    There is no other municipal union that would accept the terms laid out in this agreement. Why were we offered this? Because the teaching force is mostly female. Why will they vote yes? Because so many don't look beyond their own noses. Pathetic. The rank and file shooting themselves in the foot.

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    1. I'm not arguing the contract is good. I'm not advocating people vote yes. I am saying people need to get ready for the p.r. war if and when the contract agreement is voted down so they can get what they want in the second agreement AND limit the political damage to teachers.

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  18. Can't say I agree with you often, but your post is very well thought out! Thank you! I want more money just like everyone, but I'm ok with this contract. We need to fight UNITY with things that really matter to the whole membership and have a responsible plan on how to get it. I've been telling people this but they are too entrenched in their own agenda and they silence you when you are not in agreement. No point in changing leadership if the new leadership is out to help themselves too! Our change must be a change of the heart, and this is becoming disheartening.

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    1. I certainly have been on the other end of the "What? You're not saying what we're saying? We will attack you now!" the last 24 hours.

      I can never support the current leadership because of the way they run the union and treat members - they really have scorn and disdain for us and see the union as nothing more than a tool for their own agenda.

      I also cannot support them because I think their strategies to protect teachers are wanting, their political strategies short-sighted.

      I want an opposition leadership that changes both of these things - sees the members not as a pain to deal with but real partners in governing the union and thinks through political strategy beyond the short-sighted expediency we see out of Mulgrew/Weingarten.

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    2. Everyone attacking RBE for stating common sense - if you vote no, you better have a plan for the future.You better be willing to take the heat and possibly strike. All the MORE people constantly rip Mulgrew and Unity for speaking with one voice in public, RBE gives his opinion and gets flamed for it because it is not part of the MORE party line. Such hypocrisy. These are your white knights leading you to victory? It's easy to tear people down, the hard part is coming up with a better option instead of whining and saying NO to everything.

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    3. Although I've seen how opposition voices get "shut down" at DAs, I;ve also noticed that whether they realize it or not, many of those who are speaking out bring some level of hostility with them. Maybe they don't realize it because they're angry and because they think they're justified in their anger. People in the audience see it, which may be why they're so quick to go along with the "shut down". I'm not going to say it's the right thing to do and in the end it just creates more animosity, but maybe the "dissenters" need a different approach.

      I wonder, have any of these people tried to talk to Mulgrew AFTER the DA? I do it all the time and he always listens to what I have to say. I'm usually worked up about something or other but I always TRY not to be disrespectful and I have no agenda other than trying to improve things for staff and students.

      Once I told him that I really needed to stop worrying so much what The Post or The Daily News says because teachers were more worried about their livelihoods under this new APPR than they cared about what the press said. Now it appears the evaluation has been tweaked a bit to allow for different MOSLs and to allow a principal to override some score.

      Another time I asked him what was being done to change the disincentive for principals to hire senior ATR teachers. He told me it wasn't a contractual issue but a DOE policy and they were working on it. Apparently that is now being changed.

      Another time after we were told that we should file grievances if our administration wasn't keeping up with the evaluations I told him I resented that we, as teachers and chapter leaders, had to "police" the principals and possibly face repercussions for that. At the time he got a bit frustrated with me and said "You can't have it both ways." Then he said "Sometimes as Chapter Leader you have to make the tough decisions." I still disagree with that. But now we're down to 8 rather than 22 components... I'd be happier if there were NONE, but I guess it's at least showing compromise.

      Up in Albany, I went up to him after the speeches and told him I was furious that they had State Senator Flanagan up there and in case he wasn't aware, I explained in no uncertain terms how Flanagan was NOT our friend and that even though he's a Long Island Senator that he had been the sponsor of legislation to remove seniority protections ONLY for NYC teachers. Again, he listened, tried to calm me down by saying that we had to try to bring these people over to our side and ended with "They haven't done anything bad to us lately, have they?"

      Once after I previously had called out for smaller class sizes he pointed at me and said "You want lower class size.. we can do that." I'm still waiting on that one.

      I could go on, but I think you get the point. I think it's good to challenge our leadership. I think it's good to let them know if the things they are agreeing to might be hurting the rank and file or the students. But I think one of the only reasons I'm able to have these conversations with him is because I honestly like and respect him. I want him to do the right thing and succeed because that would make a stronger union for all of us. I almost expect him to run the other way when he sees me coming, but instead he extends his hand and says "Always nice to see you."

      Maybe it's time for some people to take a step back from this "War on Unity" and think more about how are we going to improve not only our schools but our Union, not how are we going to destroy it. I think we need to support our new Mayor and Chancellor because for the first time in a long time, they bring hope of better days ahead for our public schools.

      Mary

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    4. I was too wordy (as usual) and had to do some deleting. Left out a few important things... Third paragraph should have read, "Once I told him that I really thought HE needed to stop worrying..."

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  19. Mary, there is no time for subtle changes. Our changes MUST BE RADICAL. It should be ALL OR NOTHING. Like in Chicago. We MUST STAY TRUE TO THAT! What we can't allow is for PERSONAL AGENDAS TO TAKE OVER!!!

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  20. Reality- I normally look to you for sound political reasoning but I think you are missing something here. We will not lose de Blasio as a friend if we vote this substandard contract down. Look to history as the guide. David Dinkins managed to tick off the uniform unions and the UFT by 93 and that is why he lost. De Blasio is finished with the cops and firefighters (see Ed Notes for details) unless he radically changes policy. If he loses us, he starts to run into significant labor trouble. 1199 is great to have but he needs us to protect him if the popular cops and firefighters are elsewhere. If this contract is voted down (yes I know that is a real longshot), I predict it would get fixed rather quickly and it would be a marginally better deal. Now if only I could see this prediction come true. We have the power; let's use it. If the contract passes as it currently exists, it is a blueprint for more ed deform.

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    1. James,

      I respect your knowledge, expertise & experience around labor issues and contractual issues. I do not come from that background or viewpoint, but rather come from the point of view of an armchair political consultant looking at the political landscape.

      I will cede to you the argument over the cops and firemen - you make great points about de Basio's need for labor support and how that might make him more amenable to coming in with a marginally better pattern quickly.

      The part of my argument you didn't address though was the politics around this.

      I do not see much in the way of strategy for winning a p.r. battle if the contract is voted down. Teachers are going to get killed in the media for it. Cops and firefighters can sometimes be vilified during contractual battles, but nowhere near as badly as teachers.

      While I think the opposition is doing a great job of giving reasons for why the contract should be voted down (and they are GOOD and VALID ones), I do not see any effort to deal with the p.r. bloodbath that is going to come afterwards.

      And so, even if you win a marginally better contract (because, as you say, it's in de Blasio's political interest to come back with one), you lose the p.r. war in the public sphere as the Post and the News and Marcia Kramer hammer teachers day after day as greedy.

      Please see my second post that came after this one, about the Eva/de Blasio charter war, for why p.r. matters greatly (link below.)

      You can be on the right side of the argument, have the moral high ground, and still get killed in the media and eventually public opinion as it gets swayed by media coverage if you're not careful in how you go about these battles.

      That doesn't mean people should vote for the contract or take a bad contract - I state that clearly in the post.

      It does mean that we need to start thinking about mounting a more sophisticated p.r. war than we have so far or otherwise we'll end up like de Blasio after the Eva charter war, with two thirds of the city on the other side (that's where the poll numbers on the charter issue ended up after the hammer job Eva and her friends did on him.)

      And this point is true not only of the contract battle but the overall fight against corporate reform. Again, I think the Eva/de Blasio charter war stands as the emblem for what happens when p.r. is either ignored or given short shrift in a fight.

      http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-do-we-counter-sophisticated-pr.html

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    2. RBE - I think you are on the wrong track. Who is in a position to mount a PR campaign outside the UFT? Winning over the public and competing with Eva is not feasible. RIght now the forces of real reform are growing and working on things together (like the rally on Sat) but that movement has a long way to go. MORE is just a fragment in that movement, not the mover.
      Our problem is the people leading the one organization that has the money and personnel to engage in that PR but chooses not to - the UFT. So how can any of us do that when the UFT lines up on the other side so often?
      Now given that MORE - a democratic and open organization that allows anyone to attend meetings and speak up - is working on strategies for dealing with consequences of a NO Vote. You are certainly welcome to take part as is anyone reading this blog. People are discussing this even if the chances of a NO vote are not great? There's also a strategy being discussed on consequences of a YES vote.
      The reality is that there is little way to influence the public. This is not like Chicago where a progressive force runs the union.
      MORE began talking strategy about this contract a year ago - and contrary to Unity attacks - addressed how to support a contract that was not terrible even if not perfect. That attitude was in operation through the first 48 hours after we heard - and people were cautioned to not just jump on a NO bandwagon but see how this was being received by people they worked with. MORE also had a strategy to deal with a bad contract. I don't think anyone imagined they would come back with a contract like this. The storm that came from so many non-MORE areas of the union surprised me. I began getting emails from people I hadn't heard from in years.
      I don't think you are defeatist but a realist- except when you seem to say the NO would win. I was in the midst of the 2005 contract battle and that was a bigger one than this one and we got 40% of the working teacher vote. The major difference this time is social media - which cannot make up the difference.
      The attempt to pin every neg comment or angry person at the DA on MORE is the same crap I heard about the opposition for 45 years. Before I turned rogue I spent 5 years talking to Randi and Unity people - who told me how much they loved Ed Notes - because it didn't go after them and wasn't a threat. It was only when with the rise of ed deform and Unity's support of it that it became clear they were the problem, not the solution.

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    3. You're right that it's near impossible to work the PR when the leadership chooses not to. Of course, CTU had that problem too, before they took power and built the outreach to the community, so perhaps the best way to influence the PR is to take over the union. I dunno, maybe this contract can be the last straw for that.

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  21. As always, James Eterno brings reason and clarity to the table.
    The rank and file is royally screwed with this contract. DeBlasio is no friend of ours to have pushed for this deal. Farina has shown her true colors, and those of the current mayoral adminstration with the imminent closing of Jamaica High School.
    Remember the meme, Watch what I do, not what I say. It applies here.
    Don't be swayed by the $1000. bonus. That's what I'm hearing out there. Vote NO, as if your life depended on it.

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    1. Swayed by the $1000 dollar bonus?

      Don't wotty - not being swayed by that,

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  22. Each time a teachers union capitulates to demands for ed deform, it opens the door wider for an onslaught. Newark is on track to be one third charter in 2015. Every time a school closes, the ATR ranks swell. Those quasi charter schools in New York will have have an extended day with minimal pay for all those extra hours. The Post and the News will keep up their teacher bashing schedule regardless of the outcome of the contract vote. We are only as strong as our weakest link. I am living the Ed Deform Nightmare.

    A Newark Teacher

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    1. Not arguing any of that. Just arguing that we can influence how it plays to the public at large. The fight over APPR is an example - that used to be framed by the media as a "teachers don't want to be held accountable." But once parents joined the protests because they're children were on the other end of the testing that was being used for APPR teacher evaluations, that changed how the media framed the issue.

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  23. OK RBE

    Go ahead and frame the issue.

    A Newark Teacher

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    1. I never said I had the frame for the issue.

      Just that what we've been doing so far on much of the labor stuff around teachers hasn't been working so well while what we've been doing around CCSS/Endless Testing/APPR has begun to work.

      But clearly I have not convinced anybody that this is much of an issue and so, after 86 comments, I will end by saying that I've stated my piece, other people have stated theirs, I stand by what I said, I respect what other people have said and that's about it.

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    2. Parents are spearheading the Common Core and Endless Testing campaigns. Duncan tried to come out against suburban moms, but that did not go over so well. Parents are not vilified by the press. What the education reform movement is doing to us is ugly and we are angry. I do not know how to frame issues. I am on the verge of losing my job and my career. I am looking into life after teaching.

      A Newark Teachet

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    3. I understand you're angry.

      I understand you're fearful.

      I am empathetic with your plight and I know that all teachers may soon face the same.

      I don't think turning your anger on me for suggesting teachers need to find ways to better frame labor protections issues to the public is going to help that plight much, however, nor do I think the anger I see displayed in this thread is going to win over anybody in the general public to what many people in this thread seem to want - respect and job security.

      But now, after 90+ comments, I'm weary of the back and forth on this. because we're getting nowhere.

      What I was trying to do was get people to see that the current trajectory of the contract argument wasn't going to win over many people in the general public and that matters for both contract negotiations and other education issues down the road.

      Clearly I convinced few - and perhaps nobody - with this post.

      But I stand by what I wrote in this post and the ancillary Eva/De Blasio piece I posted after.

      And with that, I am truly done with this thread - good luck to you, Newark Teacher.

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  24. This proposed contract is an insult, and it is a continuation of the assault on teaching as a profession. The right to due process should be protected for all, it is questionable why the UFT leadership can so easily allow this long standing right to be endangered and tout this contract as a big victory for educators. The rank and file should not only reject this contract in solidarity but seriously consider taking action in the form of a vote of no confidence for the entire UFT leadership, as well as explore the possibility of an alternative collective bargaining unit for UFT represented DOE educators/staff personnel.

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